In conversation with Pavan Shetty, director, Porsche India, about the brand’s current market position, new models planned and projections for the future
evo: Could you tell us about how the market slowdown has affected you?
PS: Market slowdown affects everyone but in different proportions and different methods. For example, for a purchase which is more from commute perspective, people sometimes continue what they have and they might delay a purchase or not buy or whatever. But for an emotional car like Porsche, I think the question is more about when than what. So, I think somebody who wants to buy a Porsche, will buy a Porsche. Sometimes it gets delayed for what you would hear around in the market. We’re not completely insulated. But, I think there might be some delays in purchase.
evo: Now, when it comes to you SUVs, can you give us numbers/percentages of what the Cayenne-Macan split was earlier?
PS: So, the SUVs contribute to 62 per cent of the portfolio. Within that 62 per cent, I think the Cayenne and Macan is two-third and one-third, Macan being one-third. I think the Macan is a very important aspect of our portfolio. Being accentuated with the new development and the price positioning, we’re opening a new segment of customers for our car. They are basically the working class or the corporate consumers. I have seen in this segment that buyers are driving the cars a lot themselves, rather than by their chauffeurs. And I think, there might not be a better option than a Porsche to really realise your driving dreams. I keep telling a lot of people, that we do a lot of things for everyone and there is also a time in life where you should take care of yourself. And, sometimes, in that zest of leading life, you really don’t know what gives us happiness. So, when in confusion, buy a Porsche.
evo: Okay so if 62 per cent is SUVs, how much would the Panamera constitute and where do the sports cars sit?
PS: So, the Panamera, right now in India, we’re selling only the Turbos and there would be a time where we will start selling the entire portfolio. So, Panamera proportions right now is very small because it’s only Turbo cars selling at Rs 2 crore, ex-showroom. The rest is the 718, which is a sizeable proportion, and 911, which does very well in India.
evo: So, now, when it comes to Porsche, the whole story is about sports cars. But in India, you still see like this major chunk of SUV buyers. How do you build that sports car story in India to connect with India?
PS: Honestly, Porsche doesn’t need a big introduction into people’s lives. If you understand automobiles, at some point in time you would know that Porsche is a brand that someday you want to get. But a lot of people do not really know, what it really means to own a Porsche and how much would it be if I were to own a Porsche. So, the first thing, we do a lot of experiential events where people have a first-hand experience of what Porsche is and they really know why one should really own a Porsche and the kind of driving pleasure it offers to any owner. Two, which we’re trying to address today, is from a cost of ownership perspective, where, today we launched the Crest Care package. Which defines or puts an upper limit to the costs that might happen over a four year period. And that is usually the ownership pattern that you see. It gives a perspective to customers who might keep the car for more than four years to know that we really take pride in our quality and that also transforms to the low ownership cost of a Porsche and we really mean it by showing you that. Tell me, as a journalist, did you ever imagine that the base level, normal routine maintenance of a Porsche Macan would be only Rs 1.5 lakh for four years. Rs 35-37,000 is what you pay for a lot of premium cars today and I think when people hear about this, they get really convinced that they are buying a quality product and perceived value in terms of ownership of a Porsche gets even better with service package.
evo: Any plans for dealer expansion at the moment? Or are you focussing on current dealers?
PS: Yes. Both actually. While we focus on our current dealers and their long-term viability. We’re also looking at what could be other potential gaps that we can fill up in the country.
evo: Where do you see those gaps right now?
PS: There are gaps. Some in south India. But there is no definite answer so far, and we’re exploring, exploiting, studying on what format, where, who, and this takes time with a brand like Porsche. It’s not like adding a dealer where you’d think and tomorrow you have a shop set up. And, we need people, but we need to train them first. We need facilities which represent Porsche properly and this takes time.
evo: Any future products slated for India after this?
PS: We have the very exciting Cayenne Coupe coming in the fourth quarter this year. And, then we’ll have the Taycan, the electric car coming in the first six months of next year. There is already a lot of interest around both these models. Can’t wait to get them and unveil it to you guys.
evo: What about a little more enthusiast-focused products like the GT4 Cayman or the Boxster Spyder?
PS: As of now, we have no news around these cars. We’ll wait and see what really happens. But you’re right. India has matured to a situation where there are customers who prefer high- performance cars such as the Cayman GT4 and maybe the Boxster Spyder. But no announcement so far. As and when it comes, we will be the first one to showcase and take pride in it.
evo: So, if somebody wants one specifically, will you’ll get one in for them?
PS: Right now, no. Because it’s not announced for the country so far. But, if and when it does, we would be happy to do that.
evo: What are your comments on the recent budget, with respect to the focus on electric vehicles and the recent GST cut?
PS: I think we’re clear that government is very serious about moving to an electric transportation mode and it also matched and combines with our aspirations of what we want to do with our portfolio in the future. For example, by the mid of next decade, around 2025, 50 per cent of the Porsche portfolio will be electric. Either in a fully-electric format or a hybrid format. So, I think this is also the direction Porsche is taking worldwide and this is fairly positive. Also from other policies, I think I’ve been always saying in all my interviews, stability for us is really important and it’s been quite stable in the last few years and that for me is a positive development.
As told to Aatish Mishra